Will Shipley out of North Carolina has announced his long-awaited commitment to Clemson. The high-profile RB prospect chose the Tigers over Notre Dame and demonstrates a continuance of Clemson being able to pull whomever they want out of the Tar Heel State regardless of who the competition might be. The addition of Shipley moves Clemson up to #4 on 24/7 Sports’ Team Rankings, and also gives the Tigers the highest average commit rating in the nation for the 2021 class.
Shipley is a perfect character fit for the program, and will fit into the school seamlessly both schematically and culturally. This was a recruitment that saw the Irish recruit a prospect possibly harder than any other they have this past decade. However, it was Clemson who owned a commanding lead in the recruitment after his visit to the elite Junior Day in January. In the end, Dabo, spirituality, proximity, culture, and playing for a title contender are what carried the day for Clemson in this one.
As a Prospect the first thing that pops off the page for Will is his outstanding athleticism. As a sophomore Will ran a 4.46 40-yard dash, a 4.21 short shuttle, while also owning over a 36” vertical leap. While he is mostly a straight-line runner, his speed and burst especially stick out. When he hits a hole or finds daylight there’s a very good chance he can take it the distance. He has a high Football IQ and it shows while following blocks or while making cuts in the open field. Additionally, Shipley runs right through arm tackles with a strong lower body and despite not being a traditional “in-between the tackles” back, does not shy away from contact.
But my favorite part about Shipley’s game is his versatility. Will frequently catches passes for his High School program both out of the backfield and while lined up at WR. He aligned both on the outside and at slot, showing his ability to catch screen passes, fade routes, slants, and vertical routes. This is going to be an incredibly useful skillset to bring to Clemson’s Offense, and will make its Offensive attack more versatile and unpredictable. Pairing Will Shipley with 2020’s 5-star signee DeMarkcus Bowman is going to give the Tigers elite speed at the RB position.
As for what there is to improve Will can work on running lower, as well as improving his body lean. These 2 aspects are not mutually exclusive, and something Tony Elliot will surely be working with him on. Shipley also shows a little hip stiffness at times, which affects his ability to change direction. Ultimately, Shipley projects as a major contributor to the Clemson Offense both as a runner and as a receiver. The high-level combine athleticism and versatility as a receiver bode well for his future Pro prospects, and a high-round selection is very possible.
I said this in my Top Ten Most Wanted:
The hint was that “All In.” This has long been Clemson’s recruitment to lose since Shipley visited Clemson’s campus. Notre Dame tried really, really hard to get back into this recruitment, however. They did the virtual visit, they threw the kitchen sink of recruiting at Shipley and felt like they had made headway. I’m not denying that Notre Dame made Will think twice or even three times, but as the process wore on, it became clear to all parties that Clemson was the correct destination ultimately. Tony Elliott deserves a lot of credit for steering the ship on this recruitment.
Landing Shipley is a huge get for this class. He can give Clemson an elite weapon to move around on the field. He can line up and break some tackles going through A gaps, attack the edges and beat safeties down the field with that 4.46 laser timed speed, and also catch the ball consistently out of the backfield. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Mafah take so early in the recruiting calendar (and I personally liked Cody Brown when he worked out at Dabo’s camp last summer), but Shipley makes that all a moot point.
He dominates the competition in high school in NC. Just dominates. Good vision and knows how to run behind blocks at an advanced level for a high school running back. His calves are huge. He can even block! Where could he improve? Maybe he could develop a bit more open field wiggle and lateral quickness, but I like a runner who sees an angle and shots a gap without dancing. The only concern is that this might be his peak level of performance right now—he is physically developed and has put in the hard work to get to this level (very hard worker). But that also means that he isn’t a boom or bust prospect (athletic clay to mold) and should give you above average production regardless with the ability to potentially progress into elite RB Clemson territory. Clemson hasn’t had a complete, dynamic RB coming in prepared like Shipley in a long time.
30 rushing TD’s and 8 receiving TD’s?? Sign me up all day!